An Accidental Meeting on the street
“Hey, isn’t Da Hai on winter break?” Li Shuo asked Zhou Sihu.
“It should have started a while ago. Check and see what day it is.”
When Li Shuo looked at the calendar, he was completely taken back. “It’s already the 22nd… tomorrow is Minor New Year’s Day.”1
“Exactly, that’s why I said he is on vacation.”
“Tsk… it’s only reasonable for him to give us a call. We can go and celebrate together and even if we don’t get to meet in person, a simple phone call would have been enough.”
Zhou Sihu sighed and replied sluggishly, “Maybe he’s busy with something and forgot about the two of us.”
Suddenly, a devious smile spread across Li Shuo’s lips as he jabbed Zhou Sihu’s arm. “Hey, do you think he’s hiding in his room all day, sneaking around and playing with his brother?”
“You… just look at yourself! You and your stupid immoral behaviors!” Zhou Sihu’s hand made contact with Li Shuo’s head. Smack! “What kind of games would two guys play together?”
Li Shuo patted his friend, “Last time we went to their house, the two of them were leading quite a happy life!”
Just hearing those words made Zhou Sihu burst into a peal of laughter as images of the day they had all dine together flooded his head. He stroked his chin and said, “Maybe…”
“Ha, ha, ha…” Li Shuo stood up and called out to Zhou Sihu. “Let’s go look.”
Zhou Sihu followed diligently behind.
While in the car, the two chatted along the way. “I especially like it when Gu Hai and Yin Zi are together since they’re really fun to tease.”
“Yes, yes, yes. It’s the first time that Da Hai is so fond of another person.”
As they talked, they finally arrived at Gu Hai’s place but soon they came to realize that no one answered no matter how much they rung the bell or banged on the door. They called Gu Hai’s cellphone and was met with nothing… finally, they asked the property management personnel who informed them that he hadn’t seen the owner of the place for the last several days.
“Maybe he’s traveling?” Li Shuo looked at Zhou Sihu.
Zhou Sihu pinched his brows, “Even if he’s traveling, he should have at the very least give us a call, right?”
Just as they thought that, Gu Hai’s call came. “I’m at the military base, what’s the matter?”
“You’re actually saying ‘what’s the matter’? You’ve been on vacation for such a long time and you didn’t even utter a single word to either of us. We even thought someone had kidnapped you.”
“Okay, come find me at the base.”
With that, the two drove to their new destination.
Gu Wei Ting stood at the shore of the reservoir with solemn eyes fixated on a figure far out in the water. That figure moved further out before it eventually disappeared from his line of sight, leaving behind the turbulent ripples.
Sun Jingwei2 took the telescope and passed it over to Gu Wei Ting.
But Gu Wei Ting merely stretched his hand out to block it, “There’s no need.”
There was a hint of hesitation from Sun Jingwei before a string of word flowed out. “How about I get someone to pass by with the ship and have Gu Hai get in. For him to swim on such a cold day, it would be hard to rescue him if something happens, you know.”
“He’s not the only one swimming! There are so many soldiers training, why would something happen only to him?”
“You can’t put him on the same level as those soldiers!”
He is your son! Your only precious son! You can’t really be that heartless…
Of course, Sun Jingwei would never dare say these words out loud.
Gu Wei Ting’s stern eyes shifted to Sun Jingwei’s face while the tone of his voice was tainted with dignity. “When did you become such a shrew? How about you go down there with them as well?”
Hearing those words, Sun Jingwei couldn’t help but shiver as he glanced down and look at the thin layer of ice that had already formed on the surface of the water.
“I’m already cautious just standing here. Several winters have passed by since the last time I have gone into the water but thinking back to when I was younger, it wasn’t that hard to swim in such cold weather even if it’s for ten miles.”
Sun Jingwei was still chasing after his own glorious past when Gu Wei Ting turned and walked away. He came back to his senses and quickly made a subtle hint at an officer standing to the side.
“Hurry up and dispatch some people over there to keep guard. If the General said, ‘there’s no need to’, do you think he really means ‘no need’? If something happens, the dead one would definitely be us!”
Once he arrived at his office, Gu Wei Ting simply sipped on his tea. “How long is he staying?
“I heard Mr. Liu said, for one week. During the daytime, he trains with the soldiers and at nighttime, he stays here. They especially arranged a three-room place for him. Although the condition there isn’t the best, it’s pretty good compared to the other dorms. His meals are specially made for him and someone is also sent to clean his room as well so everything should be fine.”
In Gu Wei Ting’s memory, it has been a long time since he and Gu Hai celebrated the New Year together. In the past, every time New Year arrived, he always had a task to handle.
Gu Hai had always celebrated New Year with his mother who regularly traveled to the military base. While he stayed in the base and ate a meal… other family’s children would go shopping with their parents for New Year, but Gu Hai could only run by himself at the training ground.
In the blink of an eye, his son had grown so big already.
When Li Shuo and Zhou Sihu hastily arrived, Gu Hai had already swum back.
“Young Master Gu, someone over there is looking for you.”
Gu Hai wiped the sweats on his forehead as he turned to look at Li Shuo and Zhou Sihu and made his way over to them.
Li Shuo and Zhou Sihu were stunned. They were clutching a down jacket that was certainly filled with bundles of warmth, but as they look at the person ahead, they couldn’t help but trembled and be overtaken by the unwanted chilly wind. Gu Hai was bare from the waist up with only undershorts to company him—truth be told, his body was even smoother than it was in the summer.
Gu Hai took the towel and wiped his sweats while the two swallowed hard. Their eyes seemed to be filled with respect and admiration for Gu Hai as they looked up at him.
Having completed his daily routine, Gu Hai was brimming with energy and from the look of it, he was in a pretty good mood. When his big hand pressed down on Li Shuo’s head, it was as if a little baby bird was being clutched by the head and spun around.
After he waited for Li Shuo to steady himself, Gu Hai asked: “What, you miss me?”
Zhou Sihu pulled his neck back and allowed his mouth to draw out a puff of cold mist.
“We just took a drive to your house. The person at the property management department said he hasn’t seen you in a long time.”
“Oh, yeah. I haven’t been there,” Gu Hai said, using the towel to wipe the water from his body.
“Then, your brother is not with you?” Li Shuo said mockingly.
Gu Hai’s movement stiffened for a second before it quickly returned to normal.
“Don’t mention that name in front of me ever again.”
“Oh! Weren’t you all affectionate toward him just a couple of days ago? Why you don’t like him anymore all of a sudden?”
Gu Hai straightened out his waist. A stern expression spread across his face before a couple of words left his lips, “I’m not kidding around with you.”
Li Shuo still wanted to question him, but Zhou Sihu quickly jabbed his side and then he happily faced Gu Hai. “Hey, let’s go out and find something fun to do.”
“Okay,” Gu Hai assumed a posture that indicated that he wanted to go.
Zhou Sihu cleared his throat, “Then, Da Hai… you should at least put on some clothes before heading out!”
Gu Hai laughed after returning to his sense, “Wait here for me, I’ll be back in a bit.”
As they watched Gu Hai walk off, Li Shuo could not help but rub his arm. “Looking at him just makes me think that he’s very cold. Luckily, I’m not his father’s son… otherwise, I would have hung myself a long time ago.”
“General Gu wouldn’t give birth to such a coward like you! I’m not trying to insult you or anything but just think about it yourself. You’re so weak and soft that not even a single bone can be found anywhere on your body, yet you still have the audacity to sympathize with him?”
Li Shuo used his elbow to jabbed Zhou Sihu’s belly, “You fucking think you’re any better than me? Your cheeks are brighter than any girl’s ass.”
Sometimes, fate was definitely needed among people.
Just like that, Bai Luo Yin did not step out of his house for one whole week.
It was only on this day that he was finally dragged out by Shi Hui… only to bump into some similar faces.
Just after Li Shuo had parked the car and followed Gu Hai and Zhou Sihu out, he looked into the distance and squinted his eyes… Bai Luo Yin appeared in his line of sight.
To say it more accurately, he had first taken notice of Shi Hui.
“Hey, isn’t that Yin Zi?”
Hearing that, Zhou Sihu turned to look in Bai Luo Yin’s direction and whistled.
Bai Luo Yin’s eyes naturally rested on Gu Hai. However, Gu Hai seemed to deem it not worthy of him to look at either of the two face to face as his dark obsidian eyes fixated elsewhere. He did not look any different than before and even his mood appeared to be better as he stood there with a dignified yet domineering aura.
Bai Luo Yin was incapable of imaging that this person’s temper was like that of a child.
“Yin Zi, introduce us. Who is this pretty girl?”
Li Shuo smiled lecherously.
Shi Hui gracefully and confidently said, “I’m Shi Hui.”
“Tsk, tsk… Yin Zi, how lucky are you!” Zhou Sihu patted Bai Luo Yin’s shoulder. “Sneaking around, keeping a secret love like this is not good. When are you going to treat us to a meal?”
Bai Luo Yin barely managed to utter something. His eyes were still fixated… no, more like engrossed on Gu Hai’s face. Gu Hai also laughed with the same smiling expression as Li Shuo and Zhou Sihu. Indifferent, mockery?… he thought, but even when Gu Hai turned and left, Bai Luo Yin still did not find anything peculiar about him.
Soon, the threesome entered an entertainment center.
Zhou Sihu frequently looked back and sighed, “What a fucking beautiful girl!”
Li Shuo nodded in agreement, “Seeing those two standing together like that, they looked especially like a married couple. Don’t you think so too, Gu Hai?”
Gu Hai remained still without saying anything.
Once more, Zhou Sihu jabbed Li Shuo who then remembered what Gu Hai had warned them about earlier. With that, his lips quickly shut tight.
When Shi Hui noticed that Bai Luo Yin was still standing in the same spot for quite some time even after those three boys left, she tugged at his sleeve. “I’m a bit cold, why don’t we find a place to sit.”
This time, Bai Luo Yin finally returned to his sense.
“Miss, your milkshake.”
Shi Hui politely said, ‘thank you’.
Afterward, there were no movements. She silently looked Bai Luo Yin who sat directly across from her, but Bai Luo Yin’s eyes drifted elsewhere without respite.
When Bai Luo Yin had still just then, there was an absent-minded expression riding his face, but now that look and behavior was even more blatant.
Finally, Shi Hui dragged her beverage over before she strategically took a sip. But once her head rose, Bai Luo Yin’s attention was still not on her. She could no longer help but call out to him, “Bai Luo Yin.”
He jolted slightly and let his sense returned once more—twice this action happened in such a short span of time.
“Do you remember that back when we were still together, every time I ordered a milkshake, you would always take the first sip. Because you knew that the first sip was the hardest to draw out.”
Although she spoke with such gentleness, her words didn’t stir any of Bai Luo Yin’s memories.
On the contrary, he remembered… a recollection of scenes that occurred during dinnertime at home. Every time the seasonings were mixed together, Gu Hai would try it first and eight or nine times out of ten, he would most likely throw in a bit more of salt and then add some more soup base and water. Only until he deemed that it was good enough would he placed a bowl in front of Bai Luo Yin.
Also, every time he steamed dumplings, who knew how many times a half-bitten and raw dumpling was thrown into the trash bin…
“Are you saying that the food I make isn’t good?”
“Whether it’s good or not, you haven’t figured it out yet?”
“The eggs I boiled aren’t good either?”
“Why don’t you ask whether the water you heat up is good for drinking or not?”
1 The Minor New Year’s Day – also called “Spring Cleaning Day,” falls on the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month of each year. It is a day for offering sacrifices to the kitchen god and doing a thorough cleaning in China. In Beijing, the locals have the custom to hang Spring Festival couplets
2 孙警卫, ‘孙,’ Sun is his surname, ‘警卫’ Jingwei mean security guard/bodyguard, not his first name. He is Gu Hai’s father, Gu Wei Ting, personal body. I will continue to call him Sun Jingwei, which just means bodyguard Sun, so take note when you see this.